Pie and I were able to get in three rides in a row on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Sunday, the temperatures were hovering almost at 30F with only some wind and a bit of sun, so it was pretty nice. We went out for almost an hour and a half with Charisma on a long walking trail ride - the trails were too hard for trotting. Pie led the whole way and did very well. Our objective that day was to get out and do some distance, and to maintain a good marching walk while leading the way - he tends to get a bit slow when he's in front. And while waiting for Charisma to get ready, we worked on our patience by doing the "just standing around" exercise. He pretty quickly figured out that standing still on a loose rein was what I wanted, and I think he would have stood there all day if I'd wanted.
On Monday, Pie and I went out solo for about 45 minutes. There was some slight excitement when Pie and I had to pass a very large garbage truck that was parked on the road right next to the trail. Pie was very worried about it - he's usually pretty good about trucks and equipment but this truck was looming next to the trail at a point where the trail is narrow and there isn't anywhere else to go. Usually I'll let the horse choose a comfortable distance to pass by a scary thing like this, but that wasn't an option. So I dismounted and led him back and forth by it a few times and then remounted on the far side and rode on down the trail. He was pretty up for the rest of the ride, but listened well to my seat. We did a game of a certain number of "restricted" steps - I would slightly resist with my seat to ask him to shorten his stride - followed by a certain number of unrestricted strides. It was fun and gave him something to think about. We accomplished our objectives of a good marching walk away from home (no slows) and a not rushing walk towards home.
On Tuesday it was snowing pretty hard, with temperatures in the high 20sF, and Pie and I went for a quick ride with Sugar and Scout. The snow wasn't as pleasant when we were faced into the wind, but when the wind was at our backs it was very nice. I didn't want Pie to get too wet, since he was going to need to be blanketed for the cold and wind that night and I didn't want him wet under his blanket, so we turned back to the barn as Sugar and Scout went out on another loop. Pie didn't much like that, even though we were heading back to the barn - he's pretty attached to Scout. There was a bit of turning in circles and some head-shaking, and he was thinking about blowing through the sidepull - it's like riding in a glorified halter - and I didn't want him to do that - I would have been able to stop him but didn't want any of that bracing behavior to develop - so I dismounted before he got to trying that. We stood on the trail for a bit - he did some calling and circling but it wasn't bad - he's good about staying out of my space. We were very close to the barn, and I walked him back there and remounted and we walked around briefly. He was still interested in where his friends were, and there was a bit more circling. I got to the place I'd been steering him towards and dismounted. I tied him in the aisle for a while with a cooler on, so he could chill out. He's gotten much better about going out on rides by himself, but splitting off from a group still gives him trouble - we'll just keep nibbling away at that as opportunity permits. We'll do some more focussed away from group/back to group work as well.
Three rides in a row and five rides total in January so far - not too bad for this part of the world at this time of year!
I'm not riding today - it's too cold and windy. I did morning feeding, blanketing and turnout and then cleaned Dawn's stall and Pie's paddock, and spent some time dealing with a water tank problem. One of the tank heaters in the dry lots had tripped the GFI overnight, so I had to break the ice on the tank with my boot. We have occasional trouble with the pair of outlets that we use for the two dry lot tank heaters - for some reason - I'd love to get my hands on the person that did it - when the outlets were installed, they were put on a stalk that's only ankle high. This not only means that you have to get on your hands and knees to work with the outlets - in the snow this morning - but also that it's hard to keep moisture (or snow) away from them. Of course this is an improvement from how the place was set up originally - luckily before my time - when there was no electricity or water available in the dry lots or pastures (or for heated buckets in the barn) - I guess they thought the horses would just stand around and look decorative and never need to drink any water!
* * * * * *
Here's a sweet picture of Maisie (left) and Lily (right - doing her best impersonation of a hairy yak) at the salt block that Melissa of Paradigm Farms took:
And Norman the pony displaying adorable pony fuzziness: